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COVID-19 Update// Spring 2022 Protocol & Guidelines

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As we began the Spring 2022 semester last week, I am pleased to provide several important updates regarding our engagement and operations with continued protocols in response to the COVID-19 global health pandemic, including the recent surge in the Omicron variant.

Revision to Vaccine Requirement
In accordance to Executive Directive 2, as signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin over the weekend, the University is revising its vaccine requirement. Students are still required to be fully vaccinated and should submit documentation regarding a booster by February 10, 2022 in the Monarch Wellness Portal.

Faculty and staff are no longer required to be fully vaccinated; however, the vaccine, including a booster, is strongly encouraged in order to maintain a healthy campus. Faculty and staff who receive a booster should also submit documentation in the Monarch Wellness Portal.

Weekly testing for non-vaccinated employees is no longer required, but it will continue to be offered and is encouraged. For additional information about the vaccine, please visit https://www.odu.edu/status/covid-19/faq#vaccines.

Continuation of Masking Requirement
The University continues to require masking in all indoor facilities. A number of masking locations have been set-up across campus in order to ensure the availability of disposable masks as needed. All Monarchs should continue to exercise personal responsibility by being proactive and diligent with mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Expanded Testing Options and Regular Dashboard Updates

As testing options have been limited in recent weeks across our area, especially following the holiday season, we have been pleased to provide such services for students, faculty, and staff. Immediately following the holidays and before the start of the semester, we found that a large number of faculty and staff utilized campus testing due to experiencing symptoms and/or being concerned about a potential exposure or close contact. And, as students returned to the area and a test was required prior to moving back into campus housing, we also experienced a large number of students who tested on campus.

Between the conclusion of the Fall 2021 semester and last Friday, a total of 3,918 individuals tested with a positivity rate of 22.18 percent, thereby confirming a total of 869 positive cases. A vast majority of these individuals tested following the campus reopening on January 3, 2022 and have already completed the required isolation period of five days and returned to normal activities. Additionally, most of these individuals had very mild symptoms with a high confirmation rate of the Omicron variant. Furthermore, for returning students that tested positive prior to the start of the semester, they did not enter a classroom, laboratory, or activity space as they seamlessly transitioned from testing to isolation, as necessary, due to our pre-semester protocols. Finally, it is important to note that the number of positive cases and the positivity rate have significantly decreased during the most recent week of campus testing.

For additional information, including how to make an appointment for campus testing in the Monarch Wellness Portal, please visit https://www.odu.edu/content/dam/odu/offices/risk-management/DOCS/making-a-covid19-test-appt.pdf. For the remainder of the semester, we will continue to offer campus testing and provide dashboard updates.

In addition to campus testing, free at-home tests are available through the state and federal government. Since November, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), through a program called Supporting Testing Access through Community Collaboration, or STACC, is distributing at-home test kits to local libraries. Individuals can pick-up free kits from 60 participating locations, which are listed at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/protect-yourself/covid-19-testing/stacc/.

And, beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, January 19, 2022), you can visit https://www.covidtests.gov/ to order free at-home tests, which will be mailed to you.

Despite the recent increase of positive COVID-19 cases on our campus and in our community, we continue to provide a safe learning, living, and working environment for all Monarchs. Our positivity rate for campus testing continues to be lower than our region and that of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additionally, it is comparable to other institutions in the Commonwealth that are offering similar services. I look forward to our continued in-person engagement throughout the semester!

With Monarch Pride,

Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D.

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